Learning to Calculate in Poker

How Simple Poker Math Can Improve Your Game

There are several calculations we need to make to become skilled at poker.  The least important is the rake calculator!  Far more important are calculating outs, pot odds, equity and other areas where sound math can translate into juicy poker and an even sounder bankroll!

Why is the Rake Not Important?

The rake is a very small fee we take from almost every pot to cover our expenses and to be able to continue to bring you excellent online poker!  We cap the rake at $3 per pot and at many low stakes levels, the rake never reaches even that level!

At higher stakes levels, the pots many be for hundreds and even thousands of dollars and the rake stays capped at $3 per pot!

Finally, if everyone folds to the big blind before the flop, we don’t take any rake at all!

Let’s look at some aspects of poker that you do need to be able to calculate!

What are Outs and How Do We Calculate Them?

Outs are cards that can give you a winning hand.  Outs can also give your opponent or opponents a winning hand!  So, it pays big time to understand how to calculate outs!

If you are pretty sure that you have the winning hand already, you don’t need to calculate outs!  In most hands, that is simply not the case!  It is easier to calculate your own outs since you see your cards.  It is a lot harder to speculate and calculate an opponent’s outs since you don’t see her or his cards.

Poker players often use the term “put on” to describe their guess as to what an opponent was holding.  For example, a player might say: “I put you on two pair” when lo and behold, she had three of a kind!

What are the Outs to Go from a Pair to Three of a Kind?

If you have a pair, there are two cards left in the deck that can give you three of a kind.  When we calculated outs, we consider all of the cards we cannot see as if they are still in the deck.  Therefore, if we are before the flop, there are 50 cards left in the deck and you need one of two cards for your set.

There are 48 cards that will not give you the set and two that will so the odds of getting a set are 48-2 0r 24-1.

What is the Percentage?

We expected this question!

Of course, it is easier to denote the outs as a fraction.  It takes some calculation to convert the fraction to a percentage.  You take the higher number and multiply it to get to 100.  Then, you multiply the smaller number by the same factor.

In our example, that means that the percentage odds of getting a set on the next card are approximately 4%.

This was a relatively easy example.  In many cases, as in this one, players estimate the percentage odds because the calculation is too fractional to do in their head!  So, it pays to learn to estimate the percentage odds in poker!

The Flop is Three Cards

It is a mistake to add the 4% odds by the three cards in the flop and concluding that it means that the odds of getting a set on the flop are about 12%

The odds are still close to 4%.  Only when the odds are 20-1 are they 5%!

There are Two Streets after the Flop

Some poker players try to calculate the odds of getting the card or cards they need by the river.  The method of calculation is basically the same as before the flop: you use the number of cards left in the deck and your number of outs.

Some Hands Present Better Odds than Others

This is especially true before the river card is dealt.  If you have four to a flush or four to an open-ended straight, the odds are better than the odds of getting a set on the river and the hands are much, much stronger.

The Odds of Getting a Flush on the River

If you have four to a flush and the river is waiting, there are now six known cards and 46 unknown cards.  Nine of the unknown cards give you the flush and 37 fail to do so.  The odds, then, are 37-9 against getting the flush!

We put the word again in bold to show that many bets are based on odds that appear long.  37-9 is approximately 4-1 or 25%.  Why would a player continue in the hand against 4-1 negative odds?

The answer lies in pot odds and other poker math concepts.

Pot Odds are the Most Basic Poker Math Concept

In our example of four to a flush before the river with odds of 4-1 against getting the flush, if you were given odds of 4-1, you would expect to win $40 on a $10 bet.

If there is $50 in the pot, you would be getting better odds than the cards give you.  If there are $100 in the pot, you would be getting 10-1 odds for a $10 bet.

However, if there are $100 in the pot and the bet you have to match is $25, you are getting exactly the same odds from the pot as you are getting from the cards themselves.

This is exactly how pot odds work on all hands: you determine the odds of getting a better hand and then compare those odds to the ratio of the size of the bet versus the size of the pot.

Know Thine Opponent

The characteristics of your opponents is also a factor in determining whether to call, raise, or fold in the wake of a bet.  You can use the pot odds to your advantage based on your opponent on the hand.

If the opponent is prone to bluffing, you might shorten the pot odds while if she or he is likely to be betting from strength, you might lengthen the pot odds so that you don’t throw good money after bad.

We often see on YouTube a player trying to determine the size of a bet he or she thinks the opponent will call.  These calculations are based to a very large degree on both pot odds and that specific opponent’s tendencies.

Play Online at Juicy Stakes

Juicy Stakes offers a great online poker platform.  It is much better to hone your poker skills at an online poker room rather than at a land-based room.

We encourage you to JOIN JUICY STAKES POKER NOW!

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